MANSFIELD’s defence of the Notts County Cup started on Saturday with an emphatic 82-5 win over Nottingham Casuals.
It was an opportunity to forget their league woes and build confidence in their performance.
There were several changes in the side from the previous week, with captain Phil Donaldson, Lee Shaw, Liam Grant, Ben Holmes and Joe Symcox all missing.
Coach Steve Shaw welcomed back Wayne Robinson as stand in skipper and had the rare luxury of Ryan Hough in the middle of the park.
The game kicked off with Mansfield attacking their favourite end and immediately the Blue & Whites created pressure and were rewarded with two tries in the first four minutes through Jordan Cleaver and Ryan Hough, with Alex Miles adding a conversion.
Despite the best efforts of the visitors it really was ‘one way traffic’ in the first half.
The Blue and Whites pressed up front and moved the ball out wide impressively.
The gulf between the two sides really was apparent and the Referee did a good job in charge of what seemed to be a total mis-match.
Mansfield’s lineout functioned well with hooker Dave Davis finding the soaring Aiden McGregor taking the ball at will.
The scrum was solid again as it has been for most of the season. The ball was really bouncing kindly for the home side with a further five tries coming before half time.
The scorers were Wayne Robinson, Adam Shaw, Jordan Cleaver, Chris Hawkins, Tim Pritchard & Tom Newton. Alex Miles added two further conversions to make it 46-0 at the break.
The first 10 of the second half appeared to be a bit of a lottery with neither side settled.
The temperature dropped noticeably and cold hands appeared to cause the ball to be dropped.
Once they got back into their stride Mansfield started to run tries in, but as the scores came, so did injuries, as the hits got harder and the players were feeling the effects.
Both sides made changes, but it was the Mansfield bench that was used to the best effect.
Lewis Kearney scored his first try for Mansfield from some good hand to hand passing from the backs.
Wayne Robinson looked strong bouncing off the opposition and making good yards. Casuals still kept battling and, although they were well beaten, they did score a try of their own midway through the half.
Mansfield picked up the pace again and went on to increase the score through Elliott Gwynne and Ryan Hough. Adam Shaw scored twice to complete his hat trick.
Alex Miles capped a fine all round performance by adding three second half conversions on his first outing for the senior side this season.
Man of the Match Dave Davis had a great afternoon. Apart from his sterling work in the set piece he made several breaks and was involved in many moves in open play, including a 50 yard break midway through the second half.
Speaking after Coach Steve Shaw was very pleased with the way his team stuck to the task.
“This is a competition that we take seriously and have defended for a long time now,” he said.
“Full credit to Casuals for the way they battled through”.
The blue & whites return to league action on Saturday when they welcome Longton to Eakring Road.
You can follow the action on Twitter @MansfieldRugby.